August 9, 2019 •
News You Can Use Digest – August 9, 2019
Campaigns Say They’ll Match Political Contributions. It’s Not Clear How They Would Do That
Center for Responsive Politics – Jessica Piper | Published: 8/2/2019
Matching – when campaigns tell donors that their contributions will be equaled or multiplied by an unknown source – has emerged as a relatively common fundraising tool among groups across the political spectrum in recent years. Limited-time matching gives ideological supporters extra incentive to contribute to a campaign they care about. But legal experts say it is hard to see how donation matching could happen given campaign contribution limits. And there are no accountability mechanisms to determine whether campaigns actually follow through with their promises.
Cesar Sayoc Gets 20 Years for Mail-Bomb Spree
Courthouse News Service – Adam Klasfeld | Published: 8/5/2019
Last October, a fanatical devotee of President Donald Trump mailed out bombs to perceived critics, and, prosecutors say, reveled in the national headlines as those attacks terrorized a nation. Defense attorneys attributed Cesar Sayoc’s mail-bomb activity in part to fervor for Trump’s rhetoric. Prosecutors characterized his spree as a “two-week terrorist attack.” In sentencing Cesar Sayoc to 20 years in prison, a federal judge emphasized the need to look closely at both the crimes and their perpetrator. “It is perhaps then not surprising that someone of Mr. Sayoc’s emotionally fragile nature not only became infatuated with a public figure, in this case Donald Trump, but also came to view Mr. Trump’s political opponents as demons who were out to destroy not just Mr. Trump but Mr. Sayoc as well,” said U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.
De Blasio Pulled in a Cash Cushion from Unusual Campaign Finance Setup
Politico – Joe Anuta and Sally Goldenberg | Published: 8/7/2019
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s struggling presidential campaign benefited from a six-figure boost unavailable to candidates who set up routine exploratory committees and the move has already resulted in formal complaints to the FEC. An analysis found the mayor accepted roughly $234,000 in additional contributions from 37 donors who had already given the maximum permissible amount to his campaign account – $2,800 for a primary race. Those donors went above the federally established limit by giving to two PACs that assisted in the presidential effort but were not governed by the same rules. The extra money helped him explore a run for president without setting up a formal exploratory committee.
DNC Rules Could Expand, Not Shrink, Future Debate Stage
Politico – Zach Montellaro | Published: 8/5/2019
Democratic presidential hopefuls at risk of being elbowed out by the debate rules may have gotten a last-minute reprieve. To reach the stage, candidates have to get two percent in four Democratic National Committee (DNC) -approved polls and have 130,000 unique donors. That is a bar the majority of field has not hit and is not on track to do so. But a DNC memo sent to all the campaigns essentially gives those candidates who miss the September debate more time to qualify for the October debate, which could very well feature more candidates, not fewer.
El Paso Shooting Suspect’s Manifesto Echoes Trump’s Language
MSN – Peter Baker and Michael Shear (New York Times) | Published: 8/4/2019
At campaign rallies before last year’s midterm elections, President Trump repeatedly warned that America was under attack by immigrants heading for the border. “You look at what is marching up, that is an invasion!” he declared at one rally. Nine months later, a 21-year-old white man is accused of opening fire in a Walmart in El Paso, killing 22 people and injuring dozens more after writing a manifesto railing against immigration and announcing that “this attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The suspect wrote that his views “predate Trump,” as if anticipating the political debate that would follow the carnage. But if Trump did not originally inspire the gunman, he has brought into the mainstream polarizing ideas and people once consigned to the fringes of American society.
House Democrats File Lawsuit to Enforce Subpoena Against McGahn
The Hill – Olivia Beavers, Jacqueline Thomsen, and Morgan Chalfant | Published: 8/7/2019
House Judiciary Committee Chairperson Jerrold Nadler filed a civil lawsuit to enforce a subpoena for testimony from Don McGahn, the former White House counsel who at the Trump administration’s direction defied lawmakers’ request to appear before the committee. Lawyers for Judiciary Committee Democrats described McGahn as both “critical” and the “most important fact witness” before the lawsuit was filed, noting he witnessed key obstruction episodes examined by special counsel Robert Mueller. Those incidents include President Trump ordering McGahn to remove the special counsel in the middle of his investigation, which McGahn refused to do, and Trump directing McGahn to create a false record surrounding the incident.
How Gun Control Groups Are Catching Up to the N.R.A.
MSN – Reid Epstein, Maggie Astor, and Danny Hakim (New York Times) | Published: 8/4/2019
The political momentum in the gun control debate has shifted in the year leading up to the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, with gun control advocates taking a more empowered stance and the National Rifle Association (NRA) consumed by internal power struggles. The major gun control organizations, propelled by funding from wealthy supporters and grassroots networks across the country, have helped enact new laws, and, for the first time in 25 years, passed a significant gun control bill in the House. But the NRA’s structural advantages, built over decades and defended by President Trump and congressional Republicans, remain in place. The net effect is a playing field on gun issues that is far more level than it has been since NRA-backed Republicans took over Congress in 1994.
Joaquin Castro Tweeted the Names of Top Trump Donors. Republicans Say It Will Encourage Violence.
Philadelphia Inquirer – Michael Brice-Saddler (Washington Post) | Published: 8/6/2019
The 44 names that U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) tweeted have at least two things in common: they are all constituents in his district, and moreover, they all donated the maximum amount to President Trump’s campaign this year. The congressman and brother of presidential hopeful Julián Castro said the people listed – including retirees, business owners, and other individuals whose names are public record – were “fueling a campaign of hate.” Republican lawmakers and others contended Castro was “targeting” the listed donors by tweeting their names to his thousands of followers; a serious accusation in the aftermath of two mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton that left 31 people dead and many more wounded.
Judge Dismisses 1 of 2 Charges Against Greg Craig
Politico – Josh Gerstein and Theodoric Meyer | Published: 8/6/2019
Greg Craig, a who served as the first White House counsel in the Obama administration, scored a pretrial win as a judge threw out one of two charges in a false-statement case against him stemming from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson concluded that a 2013 letter he sent to the Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) office was not part of any formal FARA filing, so could not be the basis for a charge under a law barring false FARA submissions. Despite the defense’s victory on that point, Craig is still set to face a jury trial on another false-statement charge relating to what prosecutors say was an attempt to deceive investigators about his role in promoting a report he prepared on behalf of the Ukrainian government in 2012 about its corruption prosecution of former President Yulia Tymoshenko.
McConnell’s Campaign Locked Out by Twitter for Posting Critic’s Profanity-Laced Video
Louisville Courier-Journal – Ben Tobin and Phillip Bailey | Published: 8/7/2019
After sharing a video of a profanity-laced protest, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign Twitter account, Team Mitch, has been locked out. Twitter’s policy states that users “may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people” and the social network prohibits “the glorification of violence.” The video shows a group of protesters gathered outside McConnell’s Louisville home. Black Lives Matter Louisville leader Chanelle Helm is heard on the video mocking McConnell’s recent shoulder injury and saying he “should have broken his little, raggedy, wrinkled-ass neck.” She then yells, “Just stab the m—– f—– in the heart, please.” Someone also yells, “Die!”
Proposed FEC Rule Would Further Constrain Foreign Election Contributions
National Public Radio – Philip Ewing | Published: 8/1/2019
The FEC proposed new rules to outlaw exchanges like the one that took place when a Russian delegation visited Trump Tower in 2016 to offer Donald Trump’s campaign “dirt” on Democrats. Although U.S. law already forbids contributions from foreigners to American political campaigns, President Trump has said the meeting taken by his son, Donald Trump Jr., and others was business as usual and that everybody in politics accepts “opposition research.” There is a difference, though, between material obtained by specialists working for a campaign and information provided by a foreign government, FEC Chairperson Ellen Weintraub says. She restated that distinction earlier this year and the new rule would refine it even more precisely with a written description of what is forbidden.
Puerto Rico Supreme Court Ousts New Governor, and Another Is Sworn In
New York Times – Alejandra Rosa, Patricia Mazzei, and Frances Robles | Published: 8/7/2019
The uneasy calm that had settled over Puerto Rico after huge protests brought down one governor and a second one was installed in his place ended when its Supreme Court ruled the only way to maintain the constitutional order was to swear in the island’s third governor in a week. After the ruling, Pedro Pierluisi, who had filled the position since August 2, stepped down. Wanda Vázquez, the former secretary of justice, took the oath as governor, just the second woman to hold the office. And Puerto Rico was thrust into a new period of political tumult over how long the unpopular Vázquez might remain on the job, and what machinations might be underway to prepare for her possible succession.
The Darkest Money in Washington: Business groups spend more on advocacy and consulting than lobbying
MapLight.org – Andrew Perez, Abigail Luke, and Tim Zelina | Published: 8/6/2019
The IRS has approved thousands of applications for nonprofit status for groups known as 501(c)(6) organizations, which range from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spends more on lobbying than any other trade organization, to the Washington State Society of Anesthesiologists. Their influence has grown since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowed them to spend directly on politics. The groups spent $535 million on lobbying in 2017 and as much as another $675 million on unregulated efforts to influence public policy. The figures highlight how business interests can exploit loopholes in lobbying rules, which do not cover many staples of modern influence campaigns, such as strategic consulting, media relations, and social media posts, or even the financing of so-called astroturf campaigns.
Trump Judges Face Scrutiny Over President’s Cases
The Hill – Naomi Jagoda and Jacqueline Thomsen | Published: 8/4/2019
Federal judges nominated by President Trump are facing a major public test as they handle cases that involve Trump personally or some of his most controversial policies. New judges are already under pressure to carefully issue rulings as they learn the ropes of the federal judiciary. But three recently appointed District Court judges in the District of Columbia have found themselves and their rulings under a magnifying glass as they deal with cases involving Trump. All three of the Trump-tapped judges have acted as their colleagues on the bench typically do, proceeding cautiously in the recent cases. And while legal experts disagreed over whether the judges are facing additional pressure over their rulings, they agreed there is more attention on the cases, at least in the media.
Canada – No Criminal Charges in Allegations of Illegal Lobbying by Ford Advisers but OPP Refer Case to Ethics Watchdog
The Globe and Mail – Jim Mahoney | Published: 8/2/2019
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) completed its review of allegations of illegal lobbying by advisers to Premier Doug Ford and referred the matter to the province’s ethics watchdog. Investigators launched the review after an independent member of Provincial Parliament, Randy Hillier, alleged he was expelled from the Progressive Conservative caucus in part for raising concerns “of possible illegal and unregistered lobbying by close friends and advisers employed by Premier Ford.” Hillier said Ontario’s ethics laws are lacking and noted the Integrity Commissioner, rather than the OPP, has jurisdiction to investigate alleged misconduct under the Lobbyists Registration Act, which has a maximum penalty of a two-year lobbying ban.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – ‘Dark Money’ Expansion Remains on Hold While Court Decides Future of Law
Arizona Daily Star – Howard Fischer (Capitol News Services) | Published: 8/5/2019
A judge will not let Arizona enforce a law opening the door for more “dark money” in campaigns while it appeals his ruling that the statute is unconstitutional. In a new ruling, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David Palmer rejected claims by an attorney for the state that it would be too confusing for organizations the Legislature exempted from campaign finance laws in 2017 to now have to obey those laws for the 2020 election. The judge instead sided with attorney Jim Barton, representing the Arizona Advocacy Network that challenged the 2017 law. He told Palmer it would be wrong to run the 2020 election under a law that, at least according to the judge, is unconstitutional.
California – Insurance Commissioner Accepted, Returned More Cash from Insurers Than Previously Known
San Diego Union-Tribune – Jeff McDonald | Published: 7/31/2019
California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara accepted tens of thousands of dollars in additional political contributions from insurers than was previously known, according to a state-mandated campaign filing. The Ricardo Lara for Insurance Commissioner 2022 committee reported that it refunded $83,000 in donations during the six months ending on June 30. Lara was elected state insurance commissioner in November after pledging not to accept campaign funds from insurance companies. Recently he decided to return some $54,000 from insurance executives or their spouses after The San Diego Union-Tribune reported those contributions in early July. Lara also said in the wake of that report he would no longer serve as his own campaign treasurer.
California – Trump Wants to Keep His Tax Returns Private, Asks Courts to Stop California Law
Los Angeles Times – John Myers | Published: 8/6/2019
California’s first-in-the-nation law requiring presidential primary candidates to release their tax returns or be kept off the ballot was challenged in federal court by President Trump, the man who inspired its passage and whose attorneys argued state Democratic leaders had overstepped their constitutional authority. The lawsuit insists California cannot impose limits on ballot access for presidential hopefuls. Legal scholars have offered mixed opinions as to the constitutionality of Senate Bill 27. Some suggested because state Legislatures are given wide berth by the U.S. Constitution in choosing presidential electors, the law could be seen as a logical extension of that power. Others said the law could be thrown out on the same grounds as previous efforts in other states to link a congressional incumbent’s ballot access to how many terms the person had already served in the House.
Colorado – Aurora Lawmakers Unanimously Pass Wide-Reaching City Ethics Law
Sentinel Colorado – Madison Lauterbach | Published: 8/6/2019
Aurora lawmakers unanimously passed an ordinance creating an ethics commission and rules for local elected and select city officials. Prior to the vote, the ordinance would have prohibited city council members and the mayor from accepting gifts valued at more than $75. But Councilperson Charlie Richardson proposed that number be changed to $300 to keep “on the same page with Denver.” The ordinance will create an independent panel of retired judges tasked with investigating ethics complaints. The measure also sets out a variety of rules and standards intended to prevent council members from engaging in conflicts-of-interest.
Colorado – Colorado Approved a National Popular Vote Law. Now It Might Be Repealed.
Beaumont Enterprise – Emily Davies (Washington Post) | Published: 8/2/2019
Just a few months ago, Colorado agreed to radically rethink the way the president is chosen in the United States. The state joined a compact to award its electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote. The plan would become law if states representing 270 electors join, ensuring the popular vote winner the presidency. (So far, 16 states, representing 196 electors, have joined.) That decision, approved by the state’s Democratic governor in March, prompted a serious backlash that culminated, when activists submitted a petition to repeal the law by referendum in 2020.
Colorado – New State Ethics Commissioner Debra Johnson Previously Investigated for Workplace Misconduct
Colorado Public Radio – Bente Berkeland | Published: 8/5/2019
A recently confirmed member of the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission was investigated in 2016 for workplace harassment, ultimately agreeing to undergo counseling and spend six months away from an office she oversaw to avoid contact with employees who complained about her conduct. The investigation of former Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, and the resulting agreement, have not previously been known to the public. The city said there were no records of settlement payments made to Clerk’s office employees who may have complained about Johnson and Johnson now denies she harassed staff, though she apologized to a staff member soon after a complaint was made. “Allegations are allegations until they’re proven otherwise, and they were never proven otherwise,” Johnson said.
Florida – Curbelo’s Campaign and Office Paid $390K to a Friend Who Is Now His Business Partner
Miami Herald – Alex Daugherty | Published: 8/2/2019
During his final two years in office and for several months afterward, former U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo paid a Miami dentist and childhood friend with no political experience nearly $400,000 for political consulting, according to recent campaign records. And since losing his seat last November, he has spent thousands of dollars from his leadership PAC – called “What a Country!” – on wine and high-end restaurants. Now, Curbelo’s friend, JP Chavez, is his business partner in a communications and public affairs startup venture called Vocero LLC.
Florida – Former Jacksonville Public Defender Gave Away Guns, Money after Failed Re-election
Florida Times Union – Andew Pantazi | Published: 8/1/2019
After former Jacksonville Public Defender Matt Shirk was ousted from office in 2016, he spent or gave away tens of thousands of dollars on himself and his friends, including handing nine state-owned firearms to a motorcycle club without documentation. A new audit details the repeated ways that Shirk violated state law or policy before and after his failed re-election bid. Public records went missing during his final months in office. In one case, he gave away 10 computers just two days before leaving office. When the computers were recovered, the hard drives had been removed and wiped clean.
Florida – Scott Maddox, Florida’s Former Democratic Chair, Pleads Guilty in Probe
Tampa Bay Times – Dara Kam (News Service of Florida) | Published: 8/6/2019
After reaching a plea deal with federal prosecutors, suspended Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox admitted guilt to three fraud charges in a “pay-to-play” probe. Under the guilty plea, prosecutors dropped 39 of 42 charges against Maddox, a former Florida Democratic Party chairperson nabbed in a multi-year investigation into city government. Maddox’s longtime aide and former business partner, Paige Carter-Smith, also pleaded guilty to the same three charges as Maddox. Carter-Smith and Maddox admitted to soliciting payments from a ride-sharing company in exchange for favorable actions from the city commission. The court documents show “Company B” paid a Carter-Smith business a total of $30,000 and her businesses paid Maddox approximately $40,000 during the same time period.
Georgia – How a Criminal Investigation in Georgia Set an Ominous Tone for African American Voters
Yahoo News – John Ward | Published: 8/5/2019
Under the direction of Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Nancy Dennard and 11 of her political allies were arrested and charged with for voter fraud in 2010. To Dennard and her allies, who became known as the Quitman 10+2, the reasons for their arrests were simple. They were black candidates who won an election in the Deep South, upsetting a white-dominated power structure. “They thought they could make an example out of me, and that would kill the spirit of this movement,” said Dennard. Yet the mug shots taken at the jail that first day of African Americans wearing orange jumpsuits would be an enduring image. That perceived threat of organized voter fraud has been used for the past decade by Republicans to enact a series of measures in many states that have made it harder to vote. Kemp had been one of the most aggressive politicians involved in purging voters from the rolls.
Illinois – Illinois Pushes Millions Toward Securing Its Election Systems
Government Technology – Rick Pearson (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 8/5/2019
Three years after Illinois’ voter registration database was infiltrated by Russian hackers, state and local officials are spending millions to upgrade the defenses protecting voters and their ballots leading up to the 2020 election. Efforts to prevent foreign hacking range from hiring Internet security specialists to, in the case of Chicago and Cook County, making plans to buy new polling machines. The breach of the state’s voter database remains the warning sign for election system vulnerability, with national security experts now saying all 50 states had been targeted for Russian intrusion. At least 21 states reported being contacted by addresses associated with Russia, largely by scanning public websites, but Illinois’ data breach was the most significant.
Iowa – The Iowa State Fair Can Make – or Break – a Presidential Candidate
Beaumont Enterprise – Holly Bailey (Washington Post) | Published: 8/6/2019
The Iowa State Fair is a rite of passage for anyone with White House aspirations, a photo op that often serves up funny and weird moments – and sometimes political catastrophe. The 11-day event is a political obstacle course that has been damaging to a number of candidates, establishing a narrative that when set is often hard to shake. It will be especially challenging this year, as candidates struggle to strike the right tone while the nation contends with the aftermath of the shootings in El Paso and Dayton.
Massachusetts – Two City Hall Officials Convicted of Conspiring to Extort Boston Calling Founders
Boston Globe – Maria Cramer | Published: 8/7/2019
Two top aides to Boston Mayor Martin Walsh were convicted of conspiring to extort organizers of the Boston Calling music festival. Kenneth Brissette, the city’s director of tourism, and Timothy Sullivan, chief of intergovernmental affairs, resigned shortly after they were found guilty of strong-arming the festival into hiring union workers in 2014. Federal prosecutors said they leaned on concert organizers to promote Walsh’s political agenda and exploited the organizers’ fear that city officials might shut down the popular event if they failed to comply. Lawyers for Brissette and Sullivan argued the aides had no control over the concert’s permits and prosecutors were criminalizing the ordinary give-and-take of city politics. Legal specialists considered the prosecution novel, pushing against the limits of the Hobbs Act, the federal law that defines extortion.
Michigan – GOP Group Sues to Block Michigan Redistricting Commission
The Hill – Reid Wilson | Published: 7/30/2019
A national Republican group helmed by former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker filed a federal lawsuit aimed at blocking a redistricting commission that Michigan voters approved by a wide margin last year. The lawsuit seeks to knock down Proposition 2, which shifted responsibility for redrawing district boundaries from the state Legislature to a citizen commission. The proposition bars anyone who ran for office or worked on political campaigns or as a lobbyist within the last six years from serving on the commission, as well as parents, spouses, and children of those who worked in politics. The suit alleges the exclusionary rules violate First Amendment rights of free speech and 14th Amendment rights to equal protection.
Minnesota – Veterans Charity Under Scrutiny after DOC Official Suspected of Lobbying for Her Husband
St. Paul Pioneer Press – Dave Orrick | Published: 8/3/2019
A Minneapolis nonprofit that aims to help military veterans accused of crimes has come under scrutiny for how it uses taxpayer funds and ties to an embattled former state official. The Veterans Defense Project, which has received nearly $450,000 in state taxpayer funds since 2017, will be the subject of a “special review” by the state legislative auditor. The probe will officially tackle questions that were simmering quietly among some quarters of the Capitol but were thrust into the spotlight when Sarah Walker resigned from her position as deputy commissioner of the Department of Corrections amid an internal probe into whether she was improperly lobbying for the charity. Walker, a longtime lobbyist before she was appointed to the state position in January, is married to Brock Hunter, who co-founded the nonprofit.
Missouri – Stenger Scandal Prompts St. Louis County Council to Block Pensions for Those Convicted of Corruption
St. Louis Public Radio – Chad Davis | Published: 8/6/2019
St. Louis County elected officials and employees who are found guilty of corruption will not be able to collect their pensions. The county council voted unanimously to revoke the pension benefits of those convicted of public corruption such as bribery. Councilperson Tim Fitch said the bill would apply to former County Executive Steve Stenger. The proposal was introduced several weeks after Stenger resigned and pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.
New York – Assemblyman: ‘Great displeasure’ with ethics probe of alleged rape victim
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 8/7/2019
The former chairperson of the New York Assembly Ethics Committee wrote to state ethics regulators expressing “great displeasure” over their inquiry into Kat Sullivan, an alleged rape victim who lobbied for legislation aiding other child sex abuse victims. The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) has repeatedly contacted Sullivan to get her to register as a lobbyist. With Sullivan refusing, she is now facing a vote by commissioners that would initiate a formal investigation into whether she spent more the more than $5,000 on lobbying in 2018. The investigation could result in Sullivan facing penalties up to $25,000 for each violation. “… This is not the kind of investigative action I intended to be pursued when I voted for the bill that was enacted into law establishing JCOPE,” Assemblyperson Charles Lavine wrote.
New York – When de Blasio’s Daughter Moved, His Security Detail Carried the Futon
New York Times – Jeffrey Mayes and J. David Goodman | Published: 8/7/2019
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has spoken extensively about New York being a “tale of two cities,” a place where the privileged had all the advantages, and the working class and poor had none. But for all of his focus on income inequality, his mayoralty has been dogged by questions of whether his personal behavior contradicts his political message. The latest example came as city officials acknowledged that last year the New York Police Department executive protection unit assigned to guard de Blasio and his family helped his daughter move her belongings from an apartment in Brooklyn to Gracie Mansion. Using city resources for personal use is typically a violation of the Conflicts of Interest Law and having police detectives assist in a relative’s move would seem to cross ethical lines, according to Citizens Union Executive Director Betsy Gotbaum.
North Carolina – Former Rep. Rodney Moore Pleads Guilty in Campaign Finance Case, Gets Probation
Charlotte Observer – Jim Morrill | Published: 8/1/2019
Former North Carolina Rep. Rodney Moore, who was indicted on nine felony counts involving false campaign reports, was handed a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to a single count. Moore pleaded guilty to one felony count of making felony false statements under oath. Superior Court Judge Lisa Bell sentenced him to up to five months in prison but suspended the sentence pending his completion of 12 months of unsupervised probation. Moore was indicted on counts involving filing false campaign reports after investigators found he failed to report more than $141,000 in campaign contributions and expenditures. Authorities said he failed to disclose tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions and campaign expenses, including money for movie tickets, dry cleaning, and car washes.
North Carolina – UNC System Head Didn’t List Corporate Board Seats That Paid Millions on Ethics Forms
Charlotte Observer – Nick Ochsner | Published: 8/7/2019
William Roper, the interim president of the University of North Carolina system and former longtime chief executive officer of the UNC Health Care System, failed to disclose his seats on the boards of major corporations between 2011 and 2019, at the same time as those corporations did business with the state, records show. In January, Roper took the helm of the UNC System as interim president. In that same time, Roper has served on the board of directors of DaVita, a company that provides dialysis services. Roper has also been a member of the board of directors of three successor companies in the pharmacy benefits administration industry. None of his corporate board service was disclosed on state ethics forms until recently, when Roper filed amended forms in response to an inquiry from reporters.
Oregon – Paid Ballots and More Disclosure Are Coming to Oregon Elections
Oregon Public Broadcasting – Dirk VanderHart | Published: 8/2/2019
Gov. Kate Brown ensured that Oregonians will be able to mail their ballots for free in elections beginning next year, and that voters could have more information about who is funding political ads. The governor also signed a bill requiring “dark money” groups to disclose large donors, but that provision will not become operative until December 2020. House Bill 2716, which takes effect immediately, requires advertisements supporting or opposing a candidate to disclose who funded them. In the case of ads funded by non-candidate PACs, the bill also requires the disclosure of the top five donors who have contributed at least $10,000 to those groups.
Texas – Anti-Discrimination Official Removed by Council One Month After Racist Posts Surface
Fort Worth Star-Telegram – Luke Ranker | Published: 8/6/2019
The Fort Worth City Council voted to remove Mike Steele from the city’s Human Relations Commission, which he had been a member of since 2015. In July, members of the commission voted to recommend the council remove him after Facebook posts attacking transgender people, Muslims, and immigrants surfaced. The commission is designed to manage issues surrounding racial, religious, or ethnic discrimination in Fort Worth and advise the council on possible changes to city policy. The city’s guidelines for board and commission positions are relaxed, lacking even a social media policy. Beyond avoiding conflicts-of-interest, the expectation is that “those who serve in these positions conduct themselves in a civil manner,” the city said in a statement.
Texas – Ex-Dallas Superintendent Gets 7 Years in Bribery Scheme
Courthouse News Service – David Lee | Published: 8/7/2019
The disgraced former superintendent of the Dallas County Schools bus agency was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for accepting over $3 million in bribes in exchange for awarding $70 million in school bus stop-arm camera contracts that ultimately bankrupted the agency. Rick Sorrells pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud. Prosecutors accused Sorrells of spending the money on expensive jewelry, Porsche and Maserati sports cars, trips, and an apartment in New Orleans.
Texas – Texas Faces Turbulent Political Moment
The Hill – Reid Wilson | Published: 8/6/2019
For a quarter century, Texas Republicans have run a ruby-red state, building a conservative bastion where government is limited. Now, the mounting tensions of racially motivated rhetoric, a polarizing president, and Republican infighting have rocked the state’s political leadership. And it may soon face a tipping point brought on by shifting coalitions of voters who want change, in Austin and Washington., D.C. The tumult is creating turnover that has startled even the closest observers of Texas politics.
Washington DC – Metro Reverses Its Decision to Ban Advertisements for Art Exhibition on the Migrant Crisis
Washington Post – Peggy McGlone | Published: 8/6/2019
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) reversed its decision to reject the advertising campaign for the Phillips Collection’s exhibition, “The Warmth of Other Suns: Stories of Global Displacement.” The WMATA this spring rejected the ad campaign for the 11-week exhibition, which examines global migration. It cited guidelines that prohibit advertisements “intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions” and those “intended to influence public policy.” In 2015, the transit agency adopted guidelines that banned issue-oriented advertisements, as well as those related to religion and politics. The ban has been subject of several lawsuits.
Wyoming – Tribal Leaders Knew of Anti-Regulatory Lobbying Effort, Documents and 2 Council Members Say
Casper Star-Tribune – Chris Aadland and Nick Reynolds | Published: 8/4/2019
Northern Arapaho tribal leaders knew of, and approved, a secretive lobbying effort to defeat legislative attempts to regulate gambling in the state, despite claims that a rogue lobbyist undertook the project without their knowledge. Documents and interviews with those aware of the effort indicate the Northern Arapaho Business Council agreed to fund the creation of a group, the Wyoming Public Policy Center. The lobbying effort aggressively opposed proposals to legalize gambling in Wyoming during the 2019 legislative session to protect its three casinos, the tribe’s most important economic assets. Those proposals were defeated, but lawmakers have since resurrected an attempt at regulating gambling.
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